Proper strawberry farming is necessary for large, flavorful, and vibrantly coloured berries. Protection from weeds, pests, and elements like frost is crucial to farming. Here are some ways farmers protect their strawberry crops:
Spacing is often the first line of defence against pests and diseases for many farmers. Spacing strawberry crops makes it easier for them to spot signs of pest infestations. Early identification allows them to take proper management measures, like removing infested crops before pests and diseases spread to surrounding plants. Spacing also allows sufficient airflow between crops, protecting them from high humidity. Maintaining proper humidity can protect crops from mould and mildew.
Farmers also space strawberry crops to protect them from themselves. Strawberries produce runners as they grow. If improperly spaced, the runners can cause overcrowding, limiting the crops’ access to sunlight. This is dangerous, as strawberries require hours of daylight daily for high yields. Spacing leaves room for sprawling without compromising neighbouring crops’ sun exposure. It also reduces competition for nutrients and water, allowing individual plants to thrive.
2. Biological Control
Organic strawberry farmers protect their plants from pests using biological pest control methods. This involves introducing predatory insects into their farms to control the population of strawberry-feeding problems. Here are some problems that may be controlled using biological agents:
- Aphids: Farmers may introduce the entomopathogenic fungus, parasitic wasps, or green lacewings as they feed on aphids.
- Mites and thrips: Farmers may use predatory mites like Amblyseius andersoni, Neoseiulus cucumeris, and Transeius montdorensis.
- Caterpillars: Farmers may introduce nematodes like Steinernema carpocapsae and Steinernema feltiae to control caterpillar populations. They actively seek out caterpillar larvae and spread bacteria within them.
- Whitefly: They can be controlled by introducing parasitic wasps and predatory mites.
Biological methods are a clean form of pest control in strawberry farming as they reduce the need for chemical pesticides. This can provide a safer environment for farmworkers and safer fruits for consumers.
3. Physical Barriers
Physical barriers can help keep large intruders, like rodents and birds, away. Fences are a suitable solution for rodent and rabbit management. Farmers typically build tall fences to prevent rabbits from jumping into their farms and deep ones to keep burrowing rodents like groundhogs away. Farmers can use bird nets and visual scare devices like mirrors on a string or windsocks to manage birds. Many farmers alternate between different control measures to keep birds on guard.
Farmers use physical barriers like overhead irrigation systems and row covers to protect strawberry crops from the elements. Overhead irrigation systems pour water on strawberry leaves and flowers. During winter, the water freezes, releasing heat. This helps keep the temperatures around the strawberry crops above freezing point.
Farmers continuously pour water on the plants during freezing periods to maintain above-freezing temperatures. Row covers are fabric sheets draped over crops during the spring to protect them from frost. They’re breathable and transparent, allowing sufficient airflow and sun exposure while protecting plants.
Mulching is effective against frost damage, as well as weeds and pests that may be present in the soil. Some strawberry farmers implement plastic mulching, whereas others choose straw mulching. Plastic mulching involves using a plastic mulch film to create a barrier between the soil and sunlight. This suppresses weed growth, as they don’t get sufficient sunlight, and conserves moisture by reducing evaporation. Plastic mulching is best paired with drip irrigation, as it pours water directly over plant roots, minimizing water loss on the plastic films.
Straw mulching involves surrounding crops with straw. This protects them from weeds and pests in the soil as they create a barrier between the earth and the crops. Straw mulching can also protect strawberry crops from winter injury. Farmers pour the mulch when the crops enter dormancy in winter and remove them in the spring when temperatures are warmer.
Explore Common Methods of Strawberry Farming
Farmers incorporate the strawberry farming techniques discussed here to make sure their crops bear maximum yield. High yields help them meet market demands, allowing their customers to enjoy a consistent supply of berries. These protection measures enable them to deliver disease and pest-free fruits to final consumers.